Monday, June 07, 2010

Thank You, Helen Thomas

Thank you, Helen Thomas. Your hate filled anti-Semitism was refreshingly candid, and allows those of us who support Israel (if not Israeli policy) an opportunity to be equally candid in return. Not only did Ms Thomas call for the withdrawal of Israel from the West Bank and Gaza, something lots of Jews and Israelis support, but she demanded that all Jews living in Israel go back to wherever they came from.

Where might that be? Helen’s history extends only back to the mid-twentieth century and is decided Eurocentric. She wants Israeli Jews to go back to Germany and Poland. She wants them to go back to the death camps. But what about the hundreds of thousands who came from Arab lands? And why stop with the 20th century? Go back far enough and the Jews came from the very land that Helen wants them to leave. They can’t go home, Helen, they are home.

Enter former Bush Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. In his attack on Helen Thomas’ remarks he linked Jews in Israel to African Americans in America. Should they go home too?

Bad analogy. African Americans came here as slaves not colonizers. It isn’t African Americans who should go home, but European Americans. And I imagine there are many Native Americans (though not necessarily those in the casino business) who would be happy to see them do just that.

Ari Fleischer didn’t link Jews settling in Palestine with Europeans settling the Americas because that analogy reveals an ugly truth: rights are only rights when you can defend them. If Palestinians have a right to all of Palestine (including the State of Israel), then Native Americans have the right to all of America. Did Native Americans have a right to live unmolested in the Americas? Yes they did, but only until the Europeans could massacre them at will. Did the Palestinians living in Palestine have a right to live there unmolested? Yes they did, but only as long as they and their allies could defend that right successfully.

Native Americans killed as many Europeans as they could. It just wasn’t enough to stop them from taking their land. Arabs killed as many Jews as they could, but it just wasn’t enough to stop them from establishing their state. Welcome to the real world. Just as it is foolish to demand that European Americans return to Europe, so it is foolish to demand that Israeli Jews return to the countries from which they came. But it is only foolish because the people making the demands lack the military might to enforce their demands. Chances are Native Americans will never have the power to through out the Europeans. The word is still out on the Palestinians.

The treatment of Native Americans and African Americans is the shadow side of American exceptionalism; the treatment of Palestinians is the shadow side of Zionism. How these peoples deal with their respective shadows will determine the moral quality of their respective civilizations. So far neither is doing very well.

As for Helen Thomas? She should go home to Lebanon and give her house to the Native Americans who lived their first.

24 comments:

. said...

Good on yer mate..I am hitting the pause button on my own reactivity and fear driven knee jerk responses and deciding to go inwards instead of outwards for a while - so I've begun the work of sifting through the prison I've constructed for my "self" thought by thought...just a first run at it you understand..

http://manofestoyomi.blogspot.com/2010/06/clearing-way-to-jerusalem-work-in.html

Judah said...

Are you suggesting that Palestinians have certain preemptive rights over Zionist Jews returning to Israel same as those preemptive rights you appear to assign to North American Indians?

As for Helen Thomas, I, too, wonder aloud why we can't just all rise to that simplistic solution to our problems and go back to where we came from.

One problem: most of us don't really know where we came from.

We are far more interested in where we are going.

andrea perez said...

Go back to where you came from..Philadelphia?...that's interesting..my grandfather was Russian, my grandmother Irish, my other grandmother Lithuanian, my other grandfather Rumanian/Polish...what piece of me goes where? The woman needed to retire, if you are too impaired to watch what comes out of your mouth during an international incident that could blow up into a major brewhaha/war, then it's time to stay home. As for worrying about who comes from where, well that's just plain foolishness. I'm sure that the children born in the last 60 odd years are Israeli and have no where else to go. Just as the Palestinians who have been living in Israel for the last 60 years are Israeli? Palestinian? Well, now that's the problem isn't it...
As for preemptive rights: once you are here for a long long time, then aren't you here? The argument to send anyone back to where they came from is just in my mind idiotic. It goes to the whole immigration issue but that's another blog for you to right I assume. Goodness, where do we send those fools in Arizona?

Raksha said...

Re "so I've begun the work of sifting through the prison I've constructed for my "self" thought by thought...just a first run at it you understand.."

You can't even SEE the prison you've constructed for yourself, so how can you sift through it? I did look at your blog, and right now I have a strong impulse to post a long comment there flaming the hell out of you. If I see the words "peace activist" in snarky quotation marks ONE more time I'm going to scream.

I don't know anything about the Turkish group. But the FreeGaza people are friends of my daughter's, or if not her friends, they are friends of her friends. It was mostly a European operation so there weren't too many Americans. But I happen to know they are committed to non-violence.

Link to her blog so you can see for yourself:
http://wildandserene.blogspot.com/2010/03/live-from-minneapolis.html

I picked "Live From Minneapolis" even though it isn't her most recent blog entry to prove a point: the greater the abuse, the more the perpetrators and those who identify with them smear the victims in order to justify their behavior after the fact.

I will not stand by and see my daughter's friends slandered one more time to allow you or anyone else a few more minutes of anesthesia for your guilty conscience, at least not without saying something about it. The Mavi Marmara deaths were murder in cold blood on the part of the Israeli government and there was absolutely no justification for it. The flotilla participants were idealists, not terrorists or terrorist sympathizers. It isn't a very pleasant reality to face but you're going to have to do it sooner or later.

It's called "blaming the victim" and it's just sickening to see people who should know better (Jews, in other words) not only indulging in it but desperately trying to believe their own fabrications. Forget about damage control and start trying to repair the damage! Hopefully, it won't be too late but there are no guarantees of that.

Rabbi Rami said...

Raksha, Tell us more about your daughter. I read the blog and watched the video and still have no idea what is going on. I'm not sure I saw abuse on behalf of the police in the video. If the Israeli commandos had been as well trained we might not be talking about this. Or maybe I am missing something. So, tell us more.

Raksha said...

Rabbi Rami: When I wrote that last night (actually very early this morning), I was exasperated and exhausted almost beyond the point of endurance with trying to find a way of dealing with results of mass brainwashing where I last expected to see it. So it doesn't surprise me that I wasn't too coherent.

The video shows my daughter's fiance Jason (the guy in the pink shirt) being attacked with tasers by those "well trained" cops in full riot gear at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul in September 2008. He was charged with "resisting arrest" and both Rebecca and Jason were charged with "possession of a dangerous substance," a totally bogus charge which they dropped almost immediately. Both of them were arrested, but they held him in jail longer because of the abuse you see in the video. They HAD to make it look as though they had a reason for that totally unprovoked attack on a peaceful demonstrator.

That was only one of many incidents in a well-planned, well-executed campaign of police brutality and harassment at the RNC 2008. Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! was a victim of it at one point and an eyewitness to most of it. She also interviewed my daughter shortly after she was released from jail.

The purpose of it was what it always is, in America and no less in Israel: the stifling of dissent through intimidation. Read Peter Beinart's article that has been sending shock waves through the Jewish blogosphere, if you haven't already. Read it again if you already have. And the more you don't want to listen to him, the more you need to--but you're going to have to trust me on that for now.

I'm thinking about putting up a blog post of my own and calling it "This is not your father's Zionism, and if you don't want any part of it, I don't blame you."

I don't want any part of it either!

Raksha said...

Rabbi Rami: Re "I'm not sure I saw abuse on behalf of the police in the video."

Not sure you saw abuse, huh? That in itself is very revealing. I guess what you thought you saw was "justified use of force." There's a lot of that going around these days, and it also seems to be highly contagious. Fortunately, some of us have a natural immunity.

Rabbi Rami said...

Hi Raksha,

I looked again and didn't see the tazing, but I think I am just not looking closely enough. All I say was two instances of police leading and handcuffing two people. They didn't seem to be resisting. One of the points to protests such as these is, as you know, to get arrested and clog the system. And while tazing may be nasty it isn't the same as getting shot to death. I wish the Israeli commandos used tazers instead of guns.

Judy said...

I took a pretty close look at the video myself. As the police closed ranks around the young man in the pink shirt I could see repeated tazing. They were huddled around him for most of the video so it was impossible to tell if the tazing or anything else was going on for that long. I will say though that it seemed like law enforcement had put up with quite a bit of taunting and provoking before moving in. So, how did I get so far off topic?

Raksha said...

Re "And while tazing may be nasty it isn't the same as getting shot to death. I wish the Israeli commandos used tazers instead of guns."

It isn't the degree of violence or brutality that's the issue. I was using that link as an ANALOGY to what happened on the Mavi Marmara, in one more (probably futile) attempt to prove my point that the greater the abuse or atrocity, the greater the demonization of the victims after the fact to justify it, often to the point of calumny.

And second I was defending my daughter's honor. When I saw the FreeGaza link on Starhawk's blog, I realized the flotilla participants were her friends--no doubt some of the SAME people who were with her at the RNC and at the climate change summit in Copenhagen last December. These are the SAME people being ridiculed and sneered at, their compassion and idealism being called into question, on about half a dozen Jewish blogs that I know about and no doubt hundreds that I don't.

Including yours. Remember when you called the Mavi Marmara "the hate boat"? It's "the hate boat" just because a group of its Turkish participants were targeted for assassination by the IDF?

I'm used to that kind of slander from the ignorant right-wingers I argue with on various discussion boards and it doesn't bother me at all. But hearing it coming from my own people--and its most liberal, conscious and aware members at that!--is a whole new experience and one I don't care for in the least.

Here's the link to the Peter Beinart article I mentioned in my earlier post:
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/jun/10/failure-american-jewish-establishment/?pagination=false

andrea perez said...

Raksha,
I was so upset about what happened that I didn't know what to say.
But now, I have a few questions for you:
1. What was the intention of the flotilla?
2. Who is in control of Gaza?(Hamas/Iran?)
3. Why didn't the flotilla organizers go through the Palestinian Authority?(the body that Israel actually negotiates with)
4. Why were they carrying cement when they knew it was considered as bad as carrying guns?
5. Why didn't they go to Ashdod and allow their cargo to be inspected?If there are warehouses of goods in Israel that aren't getting through,please share.
This was an attempt to get the world to align itself with Hamas and it worked well. No one should have been put in a position to fire a gun or hurt another. I didn't know we were looking at a three state solution: Israel, the West Bank (controlled by the PA) and Gaza(controlled by Hamas/Iran)Where are the Palestinians in all this? It's been 60 odd years, it's time to stop taking sides and start working for a solution where all of our people can live. And I mean LIVE. That's what is so disgusting about the Helen Thomas statement..No one has anywhere to go back to! There are just too many people, willing to take sides that only see their own causes. Everyone has a right to dignity and survival. We aren't going to get there as long as we keep electing bullies and hot heads as our leaders. And both sides have done that one...Just tell that to the 5 year old Israeli kid who is having a missile flung at his preschool while the 5 year old Palestinian kid doesn't have a house to live in. Instead of defending any of this behavior, we should be sickened by how long it's been going on for and do something to ensure the welfare of everyone. Naive, I know.

Raksha said...

Andrea: Re "Everyone has a right to dignity and survival. We aren't going to get there as long as we keep electing bullies and hot heads as our leaders. And both sides have done that one...Just tell that to the 5 year old Israeli kid who is having a missile flung at his preschool while the 5 year old Palestinian kid doesn't have a house to live in. Instead of defending any of this behavior, we should be sickened by how long it's been going on for and do something to ensure the welfare of everyone. Naive, I know."

Good thinking! :-)

And not naive at all. Normal. Human. And very Jewish (whether you are or not).

D.R. Odekirk said...

Just saw this (shortly after reading this post): http://heraldnet.com/article/20100609/NEWS01/706099809.

I am a cradle Episcopalian and I struggle with the situation in Israel. I always return to my baptismal vows:
Celebrant: Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
Response: I will, with God’s help.

Celebrant: Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
Response: I will, with God’s help.

For me, they are words to live by.

Rabbi Rami said...

This is for D.R. I agree these are nice words, but how to we live by them? What does it mean to serve Christ in all persons? How do we love our neighbor? What do you do when your neighbor is either bombing you, or starving you?

This is a real question. I believe in the commandment, and I struggle to live it locally. But what about globally? Is love possible, or does it always come down to guns. History, Christian and otherwise, suggests guns.

Johnny Anderson said...

@Raksha and all....I watched the video and see a young man being justifiably withdrawn from a street intersection. The right to peaceably assemble in protest does not include blocking traffic. Resisting arrest = removal, with force if needed. Without seeing the entire situation or the exact tasering, it's a little difficult to see the massive injustice you see.

I also struggle to not discount you when taken so far off topic. I see the very hazy connections you are attempting to make. So I'll pose my own connections:

1. How objective can you truly be when you are the future mother-in-law of this young man?

2. Where is his accountability? His right to protest does not include blocking a street. Could his message not be made just as well without forcing the cops to intercede? Did he do his message a disservice?

3. In regards to Israel....it is difficult for me to not give them a LARGE degree of wiggle room when they are surrounded by openly hostile neighbors that utilize suicide bombings, missile attacks on PURELY civilian targets, and often outright deny the right of Israel to even exist. The flotilla skirted the rules in a situation that has much more at stake than on a street corner in Minneapolis. A flotilla flying under the flag of a nuclear power, refuses to follow established guidelines in place. Were the deaths tragic? Yes. Were they justifiable? I say possibly.

عبدالله الأعمش من دولة الكويت said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
عبدالله الأعمش من دولة الكويت said...

I apologize because my English is not good
Comparison between migrants to America, and immigrants to Palestine is incorrect
Immigrants came to America centuries ago either immigrants to Palestine, came decades ago
Indians in America, accustomed to the situation. The Palestinian Arabs They still seeking for their home
Helen Thomas did not say only the right thing in its request of the Jews to return to their countries of origin from which they came
Thank you
(AlA3mash)

D.R. Odekirk said...

Dear Rabbi,

What does it mean to serve Christ in all persons? Christ is that which is divine. I believe that we all contain, are all part of, that which is divine. I believe the scripture behind this statement could be Matthew 25:35-40 – "When did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?" and the response "...as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me."

How do we love our neighbor? For me, "our neighbor" has come to mean all of God's creation (our neighborhood needs some loving too). But how do we love the neighbor who keeps sending rockets and mortars into our homes? Remember, I said in my first comment, "I struggle with the situation in Israel." If Jesus were alive and living in modern day Israel I believe we would find him hanging out with those people, in and around Gaza, who are just trying to get by. Labels like Jew, Muslim, Israeli, Palestinian, Christian, and American tend to keep people apart; to prevent the actions described in Matthew 25:35-40. I believe Jesus would tell the people to discard the labels when they get in the way of justice, peace, and respecting the dignity of every human being. Throw away our labels?! I also believe that those in positions of power, those in control of the labels, on every side would eventually, possibly even working together, have Jesus locked up and executed. Some things just don't seem to change in human hearts. Does that mean we should not try? But what about the day we all finally try? It sounds so simple and yet I don't think I am ready to jump in there. Like you write, history, and I would say especially Christian, suggests guns but I believe that global love is possible. What will it take to get us there?

andrea perez said...

To Johnny Anderson:
Us...that's what it will take.
How do we get there without getting ourselves killed is the question.
As for Israel, how do we, (Jews) trust that we won't be sitting ducks when there is so much anti-semitism?
Afterall, those same 60 years ago, had us walking in a daze that we have never been able to recover from.
So to Rabbi Rami,
How do we get to the point where we can trust the world? And not be willing to carry the largest gun in order to protect ourselves? It's a question that has torn me in two most of my life...

Raksha said...

Johnny: Re "@Raksha and all....I watched the video and see a young man being justifiably withdrawn from a street intersection. The right to peaceably assemble in protest does not include blocking traffic. Resisting arrest = removal, with force if needed. Without seeing the entire situation or the exact tasering, it's a little difficult to see the massive injustice you see."

That may be what you "see" but that isn't what happened. The cops didn't even give Jason a chance to get out of the way before they knocked him down and started tasering him. Read my daughter's post. It was written from their attorney's office in St. Paul. Both of them have active lawsuits against the Twin Cities for police brutality.

My daughter knows about this comment stream because I sent her the link. She is very busy right now but I think it would be good if she told the story from her POV since she was actually there. I wasn't. People see what they want to see.

Barry said...

to AIA3Mash:

My ancestors didn't come to America "centuries ago." My grandparents were born in Europe. I know Israeli Jews who's ancestors were in Palestine before my grandparents were in America. There is no going back for anyone, and if there were, should Jews from Iraq, Iran, Morocco and Egypt go back? Many of them were forced out by their governments. What about Turks in Germany, North African Moslems in France, Pakistanis in Great Britain? Should they all go back? Should Arabs be thrown out of Northern Iraq and the land returned to the Kurds?
There is no "going back." Modern Israel is a fluke of history (okay, a manipulation of history by God, if you wish). Israel is about to find out with the "guest workers" from the Philippines, Nigeria and Vietnam that people don't go back after a generation. And yes, I agree that the Arabs should have a state in part of Palestine, and maybe after some years of peace there could be one secular nation guaranteeing freedom to everyone. Nice dream. i don't see it happening, do you?

Raksha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Raksha said...

Barry: Re "I agree that the Arabs should have a state in part of Palestine, and maybe after some years of peace there could be one secular nation guaranteeing freedom to everyone. Nice dream. i don't see it happening, do you?"

Personally, I don't see anything else happening. I think it's inevitable. It is probably too late for a two-state solution, except as a transitional phase. Either that or the whole place self-destructs. The flotilla incident is one more desperate attempt on the part of Israel to fight off the inevitable.

It's just as painful for me as for everyone else to let go of the old Zionist dream of a democratic Jewish state. I was raised with that dream and I know how much it hurts to let go of it. Even a couple of months ago, I believed there was a window of opportunity for a two-state solution, but I knew it was rapidly closing. Now since the Mavi Marmara incident I think the window has already closed. EITHER Israel will be Jewish and fascist/apartheid OR it will be democratic and multi-cultural. But not Jewish and democratic. (sigh)

Barry said...

Hi, Raksha-

You are probably correct, because the so-called "religious" people in both the Jewish and Moslem camps will not go for it. So-called because I don't believe either religion is based on the intolerance we've seen. Real religious people would work for a just and lasting peace.